A good portion of yesterday’s toil aboard the Islander had to do with the AC electric side of things which left me hot, sweaty, tired and perplexed. Perplexed because I’ve always been a minimalist where AC on boats is concerned so making sense of a non-traditional AC system of the previous owner’s design left me both dazed and confused.
Really, a cruising boat should have a very-simple-idiot-proof electrical layout and for me, who admits to being somewhat short of sandwiches for the picnic, simple is a very good thing. Can you imagine me with an electrical system like this guy?
The mind boggles.
Far too complicated for a cruising boat for folks of a VolksCruiserish disposition, and way too expensive as well. Sure it would be nice to have all modern conveniences but with those frills comes all sorts of fault points that can lead to breakdown. The more complicated a system is, the more it will want to turn itself into a brick.
Which is why the Islander is going to have a dead simple electrical system based on a 12-volt battery bank (golf cart batteries) with minimal AC that use inexpensive inverters when needful, and a 2000W generator when needful (for making water and to run tools for projects)..
For starters, the new 12-volt system is going to reduce the wire onboard by about 60% which equals a surprising amount of weight, wasted space, and expense. Some would take the opportunity to suggest 24V or 48V-based systems and they both have their merits but, as 12V is still the marine standard, it just seems to me that going with 12V currently makes the most sense.
My reasoning for lead-acid flooded batteries is that I know from experience that a 400 amp-hour bank treated correctly will last around 10 years and with solar is pretty much self-tending. While new battery chemistries are interesting, they are also a lot more complicated with more possible faults and, while they may last longer in the big picture, lead acid still makes sense if you do the math.
That being the case, it’s not the hardware or tech that is the most important where power systems are concerned when designing a system but all about what you actually need versus what you may want. A frugal set of needs is a far more effective design brief when designing an affordable/sustainable system.
In our case, a very basic 12-volt system works and has for the last few boats we’ve cruised on; so we’re working from experience.
More later as we get the new system sorted out.